High Wray Basecamp is the National Trust’s full time volunteer centre in the Lake District and has had a long association with Fix the Fells. The team here started the very popular upland adventure camping holidays, National Trust working holidays with a difference. For these, our brave volunteers stay up on the fells for three nights, working to repair path erosion during the day. These give an experience like no other with participants gaining a real sense of ownership of the piece of path they’ve helped to look after. Additionally, we provide the accommodation for the working holidays for both the South Lakes and Central upland path teams.
We’re big supporters of the Fix the Fells lengthsmen scheme too. Along with the upland path teams, we also run a work part once a month. Unlike the upland teams’ days though, ours will be a low level task such as drystone walling or hedgelaying. As well as giving the lengthsmen an opportunity to expand their skills this also adds extra variety to the program, something many of the group have told us they appreciate. The lengthsmen use the Basecamp as a residential base for summer weekend work parties too and for the last three years have held their Christmas bash here – an event which gets bigger each year!
Basecamp plays an important role in education and raising awareness of Fix the Fells. We’ve developed a good relationship with the outdoor studies department of Kendal College, with students from the first year joining us for monthly volunteering days and to learn the background to Fix the Fells. The second year students work with us and the upland path team on a more in depth project, gaining a deeper understanding of their work. As they are the outdoor instructors of the future, we hope they’ll pass this on to those they work with in their careers. We also work with a number of other educational establishments such as Ambleside University and Kirklees College on a similar basis.
Finally, Fix the Fells supports Basecamp in it’s wider aims. We work with many organisations whose members have little or no experience of the countryside, such as inner city youth charities and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres. Few of these groups will make it to the high fells, as this would be too much of a challenge for them. However, all of them work with us to help look after the beautiful Lake District countryside on lower level tasks ranging from invasive species control to path building. It really is no exaggeration to say that for many of these volunteers the week here can be a life changing experience and something we hope will grow into a life long love of places like the Lake District.
But don’t take our word for it. Some quotes from our guestbooks sum it up better than we can:
I felt part of a team, that I was doing something for the environment. I felt useful, helpful and part of something worthwhile as I haven’t felt like that for a long time in my life. This experience will last with me forever and I am taking lots of happy memories away with me. It has inspired me for what kind of volunteering work I would like to do in the future.
It’s a magical place to be around, the wild life is out of this world and the walks, it’s all different to me because I’ve always lived in a city. Love it and it’s nice to breath fresh air for once.
I felt like an animal of the world moving amongst the earth rather than a handful of anxieties and troubles, all of which seemed to blow away in the clean breeze. Made me feel alive.
I have a real sense of achievement from doing it and knowing we were putting something back. Been in addiction for six years and not had an experience like this before it’s an amazing feeling to have and it’s all natural.
We walk paths like this when we’re doing our gold Duke of Edinburgh and never understood how long it takes to make them’
I’ve had time to reflect on my life and hope to make changes towards my future’
I learnt that when I put my mind to anything I can achieve it.
I have found a special time and place, I feel very humble to have had a chance to be here. The work was good and we all got stuck in, I’ve never done rhoddie bashing before and the break from treatment left me focussing on my life with fun and enjoyment without addiction.
I took from society for so long, it has pleased me to finally start giving something back.
It was really good to stand back and look at what we achieved and to think that thousands of people will see and walk on what we completed and it will be here for years to come.
Find out more about what Basecamp teams and volunteers got up to in 2015 in their yearbook
Please find a link to Basecamp’s ‘yearbook’ for 2016, the annual sum up of the year just gone here